The Head That Wears the Crown

Right after our big trip I attended a workshop on how to make flower crowns with a well-known local artist & florist, Alaska KnitNat.  I’ve seen her work in many photographer’s images and it always looks stunning, so I was interested to learn a bit about how to create something similar for my styled shoots and special projects.  It was a “make & take” workshop I arranged to do a quick photo shoot for a friend a few hours after the workshop so we could use the crown and get some images of it, which is where the image above came from.  It’s a little different posing with a crown since it’s not something most people wear every day, but we had lots of fun with it.  Here’s the basics on how it went together.

The instructor had several flower options available to choose from and these little pink flowers, which I believe are was flowers immediately spoke to me.  I decided to use those and dusty miller that her landscaper friend had given her for experimenting along with some thistles (a nod to our recent trip to Scotland) and lavender.

The starting point is this coated florist wire.  It’s available at both JoAnn Fabrics & Micheals.  Using your own head as a measuring tool, wrap the wire around where you want it to sit and cut leaving 1-2″ extra on each end to create the tie in the back.

We opted to do a ribbon tie at this workshop because it was a bit prettier and allowed for different sizing if it was to be worn by different models.  The alternate is to leave excess room to weave or twist the two ends together.  To create attachment points for our ribbon ties we created a small loop on either end of the wire.

These loops were secured with floral tape wrapped around the wire.  From there, the pieces of ribbon were double-knotted through the ‘eye’ created by the tape on each side.   Now it’s time to start using the florals.

I got so engrossed in the creative process I apparently didn’t take any pictures of this stage, so I’ll try to describe it the best I can.  Using small sections of your selected florals (2-3 small stems or pieces arranged together), you begin to form the arrangement.  Tape the stems of each section down to the wire, working in one direction so each batch covers the stems of the previous batch.  Alternate the direction each batch points off the wire (right or left) in a cross-hatch style so that you keep things full and all the connections on the wire covered.  You also want to make sure your florals are all on the top side of the wire, so that the back side remains flat to sit against the head.

The process does take a bit of planning before you dive in since once each section goes down it’s nearly impossible to add to it because you layer each section with the sticky floral tape.  I forgot to include a thistle early on in the design of mine and had to work it back in trying to secure it without disturbing the other sections around it.  I made it work, but it wasn’t the best option.  I highly recommend just playing with a design or arrangement before you commit to the tape, or make a few practice crowns until you get it just the way you want.

I chose to make an asymmetric design rather than a full crown that goes all the way around the head, so I started my sections about a third of the way down my wire from the ribbon eye loop and stopped about a third of the distance to the other side’s ribbon tie.  If you were doing a full crown you would start closer to the eye loop and continue all the way down the wire.

Here’s me modeling the finished piece after the class.  The Dusty Miller really gave it a unique look and made it easy to transition from fall to winter.  One of the other participants in the class was a local cake maker I’ve met several times.  She also chose to do an asymmetric design with eucalyptus, lavender, thistle and statice.  It had a wonderful woodland fairy vibe and because of the flowers she chose the instructor was fairly certain she’d be able to let it air dry and keep it for years.

I enjoyed wearing my handiwork the rest of the day until my friend’s shoot, where we took turns wearing it.  I even wore it to do some shopping and got several compliments on it – although some didn’t even notice it since it was the same day as a big costume marathon in town!  Here’s one of my favorite shots with the crown from my friend’s session.  It certainly creates a whimsical look.  You can see the ribbon tie sticking out a bit in the back due to the angle.  I left it here so you could get a sense of where it tied, but I’ll probably photoshop it out in the final edit.

Because I also chose florals that kept well I was able to store it in the refrigerator and use it on a senior photo shoot the following week!  It had just started to snow and we were surrounded by evergreen trees rather than colorful leaves so it has a completely different look in this shoot.  I let the senior keep it after her shoot so she could enjoy it and feel like a princess for a few more days.

It was fun learning a new skill and I plan to put that knowledge to work for future sessions to spice up my portfolio.  Have you ever worn a flower crown or have a favorite ‘look’ that used one?  I’d love to see a picture of it for inspiration!  Alaska KnitNat also has a more in-depth, step-by-step tutorial with a video on how to create these crowns on her site, so be sure to check it out along with her other DIY tutorials for fun projects like a Modern Hoop wreath and even how to make grocery store flowers look like a professional floral arrangement!

 

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Last Minute No-Sew Halloween Pillow

Happy Halloween everyone!  I finished this project just in time to enjoy it today and am so pleased with how it turned out I just had to share.  It started with these fun spider place mats I found in the dollar section at Target.  I think the pair were just $3.

I loved the cute fringe on the edges and that the simple pattern didn’t scream Halloween since I’ve moved to more neutral decor, even for holidays.  The place mats already had hems around each edge and had a felt backing.  I’d seen several tutorials on opening up one side of double sided place mats to make pillows but since these weren’t double-sided and I don’t sew, I took the easy route with fabric glue.

While getting a little TV time in, I put a bead of glue around three edges on the back of one place mat and carefully aligned the other one to match.

The glue instructions say to wait 30 minutes to allow a good bond.  I compressed the two place mats together under a cutting board with several heavy items on top of it for about 24 hours to make sure there was a really good bond since this would be a pillow – plus it was already late at night and I had work the next day!  I was left with this cute pocket ready for filling.

I stuffed fiber fill I’d kept from one of many pillows the dogs had worn out until it started to look like a pillow.  I ran another bead of glue along the open edge and pushed the two edges closed.  Now that the pillow was filled the cutting board compression method wasn’t feasible so I dug out a bag of clips I’ve kept and used those along the edge to keep everything together.  I let that sit overnight as well because I had to be away from the house the whole next day.  One of the clips did stick a bit due to some glue that oozed out the side, but I gently pulled the spot back and was able to remove the clip without any issue.

And here’s the finished pillow!  Isn’t it adorable?!  I was at a workshop all weekend so I took advantage of a photo shoot setup to get a couple of good daytime shots for you.

The pom pom fringe was what initially drew me to the place mats and it’s the perfect finishing touch to keep this little pillow fun rather than spooky.

And it looks awesome paired with my velvet boo pillow I got at JoAnn Fabrics this season!  They look so romantic with this set-up and yet still neutral and festive.

Once it was done the Hubs pointed out that I put the place mats together in opposite directions so when you flip it over the other side is upside down, but that’s not a big deal thanks to the semi random pattern.  Since the care instructions are spot clean I plan to keep both of these pieces up high and away from the fur babies, so they last and I can enjoy them for several years.

This was such a quick and easy project that I’m sure I’ll do more like it. In fact I have a couple of place mats from our trip to IKEA last year that I plan to do something just like this with, so stay tuned for those!  Until then go grab your costume and find some treats rather than tricks! I’ll leave you with a few more shots from my fun Halloween themed photo shoot I mentioned in my previous post to get you ready.

DIY Witch’s Broom

With Halloween just around the corner I wanted to share a quick DIY witch’s broom project that was a happy accident.  It started with the purchase of these flower stems at Joann Fabrics.  I was working on creating a headpiece for a Halloween themed photo shoot and loved the look and texture of these flowers.

Upon closer inspection I realized that the flowers stems were just wrapped around branches and could be easily removed.  So I untwisted them, one-by-one while enjoying a little TV time.

I was left with two piles of pretty flowers destined for photo shoots and these two bare branch things.  I considered putting them upright in a vase or bucket with lights for a spooky arrangement, but when I saw the two together I suddenly saw a broom.

I grabbed some scrap black ribbon and wrapped the two stems together.  Normally I would have secured the ribbon with hot glue but I’m not sure I’ll use these the same way next year and I was at my office rather than at home so a few pieces of clear tape did the trick.

It looks pretty good in our office with the other Halloween decorations – follow me on Instagram and Facebook for peeks – but I wanted to get a nice shot of it so I took it back home and propped it up on the wood pile.

Not bad for a free project made from leftovers from another project!  I still think it needs something to finish it off.  Maybe a bow at the base of the stem or a hanging loop, but I can figure that out next year if I use it again.  If you have ideas in the meantime I’d love to hear them! And in case you’re wondering how the flower headpiece turned out here’s a peek from the session!

Isn’t she gorgeous?!  She’s a hair and makeup artist and did the makeup herself based on a couple of inspiration shots I sent her.  I’ll be sharing more of these awesome shots soon and give a quick recap of the location we used, which is a local historical park.  And I’ll be working with this lovely lady again in the future for some other fun ideas. 🙂

The Shed Bed

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to write for the blog, but I found a few minutes today to share one of the last projects of the season before the snow started to fly.  I added a whole new flower bed along the side of the shed!  This space used to be a dumping ground for pallets and scrap wood we were saving for future projects, but its one of the first things you see as you pull up to the house and now that the green house was over her I wanted the area to have a more structured look.  So the Hubs helped clear out all the wood at the beginning of the season and I started planning out the layout once I confirmed the exposure this space gets is mostly shade.

Here’s how it was looking as fall started to arrive.  I’d used left over edging stones to create a border and placed a few pieces of garden art to start establishing the structure of the layout.  I stopped at an end of season plant sale near my office and got several options that should do well in the shade.  I planned to fill in with other plants from another bed that will be eliminated next summer.  Since this whole area is rocky back fill I put down a layer of top soil to create the base of the bed.

Once the top soil was in and the plants were in the ground I covered the areas around each plant with newspaper to prevent weed growth next season. It was an interesting process since the wind decided to kick up about the same time so I had to quickly put mulch down over the paper to hold it in place.

While I alternated between piecing newspaper sections around plants and chasing them across the yard as they blew in the wind, my assistant was quite busy catching up on her dirt baths…

I used wood chip mulch because it was inexpensive and I had several large areas to cover between this bed and some other projects.  The Hubs got me a full truck load of wood chips for around $20 the same day he got me the load of top soil and gravel to go around the green house.

Since I’m using perennials, I left plenty of room for things to spread over the coming years.  I used lambs ear around the rusty metal tank to create a batch of low visual interest along the front of the center of the bed.

These two hostas were transplants from the shade bed at the corner of the fenced yard which will be eliminated next season when we build a new outbuilding.  I call it “The Barn” but the Hubs thinks it’s a garage.  We’ll see who wins that debate. 🙂

Another transplant is this little astible.   This is the third placement it’s had since coming to our house.  He started in the gifted garden but was getting too much sun so I moved him to the shade bed where he did much better.  Hopefully the third time is a charm holds true for him and he continues to grow even fuller in this spot.

I also used a few new catmint plants since Luna loves the ones we have in other beds already and it’s an easy keeper that fills in areas nicely.  These will give her a couple to choose from so she alternates which she rolls in each day so they all get a break to recuperate!

I also transplanted a Seal of Solomon that surprised me in the gifted garden.  I’d brought him back from my Mother-In-Law’s garden in Washington and hadn’t seen him in the spring so I thought he hadn’t survived the winter.  This spot should be a much better exposure for him and he looks quite cozy behind the little quail family who are now safer from my active four-legged children!

Here’s how things looked once everything was in.  I’m excited to see how it all comes back next spring and watch it fill in the space.

There’s still some finishing touches needed, but this is a much better first impression as you come up the driveway.  It will look even better when I get that gravel the Hubs got me spread in front of it! Fingers crossed the weather will cooperate to let me do that next week when I have some time available so we don’t have piles of material at the corner of the driveway all winter!  And while I’m doing that the Hubs can get the last of the shed’s gutter completed so we have a ready supply of water when spring returns. 🙂

Adding a Porch to the Greenhouse

Since we got the green house set up this summer I’ve been wanting to add a little porch to the front to reduce the step in at the door.  I had planned to build one myself from pallet wood, but the Hubs offered up a few piece of damaged Trex boards that were scrap from our deck projects.  (I’ll be sharing the new deck & hot tub the Hubs has been working on all summer once I get a chance to style it a bit and get some photos!)

I certainly wasn’t going to turn down his help or an option that required less prep work – especially as we enter the last few weeks to get outdoor projects done before winter arrives in Alaska.  He built a simple frame from some some left over pressure treated boards left over from building the new deck and attached it to the frame of the green house on the front.  Because the ground slopes here we used paver bricks to support the frame so we could get it level.  Once we had it attached we pulled out the pavers and the Hubs added a support post using a scrap piece of 4×4, also from the deck construction.

I was busy getting a new flower bed installed next to the shed (I’ll be sharing that update next week) so I didn’t get a picture of that step but you can see it in the edge of the finished photo.  I plan to add fill dirt around the front, side and back of the green house to level things out a bit more before we spread gravel over the whole area around the green house.

Here’s a quick little before and after:

It’s amazing how much that little change elevates the look of the whole green house!  I absolutely love it and can’t wait to see it finished off with the gravel around it.  Now I just need to find a metal R at Alaska Picker Day tomorrow so I can complete the “GROW” sign I plan to add to the top of the front.  🙂  If I find some good treasures I’ll be sharing those next week as well!

Green House Sitting Area

Now that I spend a lot of time at the green house I decided to make a little spot to sit and take a break when I’m tending the garden.  It will also be the perfect spot to enjoy the new flower bed I’m putting in along the shed.

The spot is between the green house and the berry patch, just at the crest of the hillside as it starts to go down.  It’s a simple set-up that came together easily, starting with the chairs, which I found on the buy/sell page for $20.  When I got them they didn’t match – one was red and the other was tan.  If they had both been tan I probably would have left them as is, but since I wanted them to match I picked up a couple cans of spray paint for plastic to make them teal instead.

Apparently I was in such a hurry to get the project rolling that I forgot to take a before picture of the red chair, but here’s the tan one prior to it’s makeover.

And here it is while drying.  The paint went on easily and because it has a built in primer there was no prep work other than a light cleaning to remove any built up dirt.  It’s been about a month since I painted them and they seem to be holding up quite well.

I had a curbside freebie wooden stand I’d snagged while getting some other freebies off Craigslist and thought it would make a fun little table between the chairs.   You can check out a before picture of this little thing on Instagram.  I first tried to paint it white but the wood soaked up the paint inconsistently making it look splotchy.

I dug through the paint cabinet in the garage for an alternative and found two cans of grey spray paint.  The darker color seemed more uniform, although still not perfect.  I figured it would weather anyway so it just adds a bit of character and you can’t beat free paint!

To pull it all together, I added a couple of pillows from my stash for the backyard, along with some planters I’d filled earlier in the season and a citronella candle to keep the bugs at bay.  Not a bad little spot to relax for around $30 (chairs & paint)!  I may add a little shelf on the bottom of the table next season, but for now it works just fine.

We plan to cover the whole open area around the green house with landscape fabric and gravel over the labor day weekend, which will really finish off this space.  Now I just need some extra time to go out and enjoy it! 🙂

 

Well Float My Rope and Ring My Bell

Yesterday I mentioned making driftwood garlands, like the ones I saw in Homer, but today I’m sharing a similar project I did recently that also has a bit of a nautical flair.  This little project has been in the works for years.  It started when I picked up a batch of wooden floats used for fishing more than 2 years ago.  I only had six and every project I thought up required more so they sat, waiting for more to be found.  Then I happened upon these cool vintage metal floats at Junk Bonanza and decided to pair them together but still didn’t have quite enough to complete the project.

I spotted a pair of metal garden bells in a catalog for $20 and knew they’d be perfect at the end of a line of floats.  Unfortunately the company wouldn’t ship to Alaska so I had them shipped to my Mother-In-Law and picked them up when we visited earlier this summer.  To fill out the rest of the rope I picked up several cork floats from Alaska Picker for a few bucks each.

I used some woven rope I already had in my stash from another project and started with a loop tied with a knot.  I fed the floats onto the rope in a set pattern and tucked the loose end of the rope from the knot at the loop into the center of the first float.  At the bottom I just made a knot and then tied the rope that came with the bell into the knot, again tucking loose ends into the last float.  It was so easy, I did both ropes while watching a movie with the Hubs and it took less than 20 minutes.

The Hubs added hooks we had left over from another project on the front corners of the green house so I could hang the ropes easily and take them down for the season quickly.

Here’s the rope on the other side, where I’ll have a large metal horse trough planter next season.  Right now it’s serving as a brooder for the baby chickens we picked up yesterday!  Get a peek at them on Instagram or Facebook.

The bell on this side is a little smaller than the other, but has the same style and finish.  They don’t get much movement in this spot so they stay pretty quiet, but when they do chime it’s a pretty soft sound that’s soothing and just right for a garden.

I’ve still got several projects to tackle out around the green house before we close up the yard for the winter and I’m already putting together the plan for what we’ll plant and do next year.  Until then these float ropes add a little bit of Alaska style whimsy to the garden and make me smile every time I see them.  One more project checked off the list. 🙂